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Environ Res. 2015 Oct;142:264-72. doi: 10.1016/j.envres.2015.07.003. Epub 2015 Jul 14.

Urinary biomarkers of exposure and of oxidative damage in children exposed to low airborne concentrations of benzene.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Parma, Parma, Italy. Electronic address:
Department of Environmental Science, Security, Territory, Food and Health, University of Messina, Messina, Italy.
CERT, INAIL Research Center at the University of Parma, Parma, Italy.
Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Parma, Parma, Italy.
INAIL, DMLEL, Monteporzio Catone, Rome, Italy.
Department of Public Health and Infectious Diseases, La Sapienza University, Rome, Italy.


The aim of this work was to evaluate the oxidative damage to nucleic acids in children (5-11 years) associated with exposure to environmental pollutants and tobacco smoke (ETS). For each subject, urinary sampling was done twice (evening and next morning) to measure by tandem LC-MS-MS such oxidated products of nucleic acids as 8-oxo-7,8-dihydro-2'-deoxyguanosine (8-oxodGuo), 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanosine (8-oxoGuo), and 8-oxo-7,8-dihydroguanine (8-oxoGua). Methyl tert-butyl ether (U-MTBE), benzene (U-Benz), and its metabolites (t,t-muconic and S-phenylmercapturic acids, t,t-MA and S-PMA, respectively) were determined as biomarkers of exposure to air pollution, and cotinine as a biomarker of exposure to ETS. Biomarkers of exposure (S-PMA and U-MTBE) and of DNA oxidation (8-oxodGuo) were dependent on the urbanization and industrialization levels and increased in the evening sample as compared to next morning (p<0.05). In both evening and next morning samples, 8-oxodGuo and 8-oxoGuo correlated with each other (r=0.596 and r=0.537, respectively, p<0.01) and with biomarkers of benzene exposure, particularly S-PMA (r=0.59 and r=0.45 for 8-oxodGuo and r=0.411 and r=0.383 for 8-oxoGuo, p<0.01). No such correlations were observed for U-MTBE and cotinine. Multiple linear regression analyses showed that 8-oxodGuo was positively associated with S-PMA at both sampling times (β=0.18 and β=0.14 for evening and next morning sampling, respectively; p<0.02) and weakly with U-MTBE (β=0.07, p=0.020) only in the evening urines. These results suggest that the selected biomarkers of exposure to benzene, particularly S-PMA, are good tracers of exposure to complex mixtures of oxidative pollutants and that the associated oxidative damage to nucleic acids is detectable even at very low levels of exposure.


Benzene exposure; Children; Nucleic acid oxidation; Oil refinery; S-phenylmercapturic acid

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